Together Medical Officers Portal

Another shattered promise to doctors and the community

Posted by Alex Scott on September 5, 2012

A little over a week ago the government rushed legislation through Parliament to override enterprise bargaining agreements. This means that part of the EB agreement you are about to vote on doesn't apply as it is written.

The major impact is on Part 8 of the agreement.

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PART 8 - ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE AND RESTRUCTURING
All significant organisational change and/or restructuring that will impact on the workforce (e.g. job reductions, contracting out, deployment to new locations, major alterations to current service delivery arrangements) shall be undertaken in accordance with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission Termination, Change and Redundancy Statement of Policy.

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The QIRC statement of policy says that the employer has to notify and consult with employees and your union delegates about organisational change or restructuring and if this change may lead to job losses consultation has to occur as soon as possible.

The legislation overrides your current agreement and the one you are about to vote on to replace it.

The legislation says that QH (or your local hospital board) is not required to notify or consult with you or your union about any organisational change until they consider it appropriate. This is the issue in Townsville this week where 3.5 Medical Officer positions were identified to be cut.

Further, it says that they don't need to consult with you about the decision only about the implementation. This takes away a fundamental part of consultation - being able to influence the decision, or suggest alternatives, in order to avoid job losses or risks to patients.

Nothing in the material from Queensland Health explaining the agreement tells you that this clause and all it means for you has been altered by legislation and will not apply. On that basis Together believes that the employer has failed to make a reasonable effort to explain the effects of the proposed agreement to its employees as required by law, and therefore they are unable to certify the agreement. We have written to the Director-General of Queensland Health today asking him to advise employees about the legislative changes and the true effects of the agreement and we have also lodged a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court against the legislation.

Whatever the outcome of the court action we now know that the government will use their legislative power to govern the state to undermine your working conditions and to get themselves out of their promises, agreements, deals and contracts.  That's why we launched the TV ad campaign about the broken promises from this government and are keeping the pressure up on the politicians to change their minds on this critical issue. You can view the ads at http://www.howcanwetrustyou.org/

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board have already used the government's new legislation to cut 200 jobs including frontline staff with no consultation. Forty-five nurses and 3.5 FTE medical officer positions are being cut and nurses and doctors and their unions have not been given any information or an opportunity to ask questions or discuss with the Board what effects this might have on patient safety, workloads, or the provision of medical services to the public in Townsville.

This is despite the PSC making statements on record to doctors in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in relation to this very enterprise agreement that "the Queensland Government has an absolute commitment to the provision of front line health care services and doctors play an absolutely pivotal role in the provisions of such health care services". This is yet another broken promise made to members and the people of Queensland by this government.

Because the government are prepared to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of legislating out of their agreement with you as employees, there is only one way to stop and reverse these attacks on medical services, your jobs, and the concept of a deal being a deal. That is to engage with the politicians, and the community to force the politicians to change their minds about cutting jobs and services. To get involved in our political activities please email pollies@together.org

Once we hear back from the Director-General regarding the enforceability of the job security and consultation clauses in your proposed agreement we will let you know. For more information please call 1800 177 244 or email MOCA@together.org.au.